Is Bunion Surgery Safe for Children?

Posted by Dr. Brian Nagy on March 13, 2018

Young Girls FeetIn some cases, bunion surgery is not only safe for children but recommended. Many adults who get bunions can think back to a time when they were younger that they experienced foot problems or pain. This is because the main cause of juvenile bunions is heredity; bunions in children do not tend to go away on their own but continue to recur or get worse. The adult woman who gets bunions from wearing high-heeled, pointed-toe shoes most likely has a mother or grandmother who also had bunions, and they probably began to form when she was just a child. 

Juvenile Bunion Symptoms and Causes

Bunion symptoms in children are much like those in adults, although the first thing you might notice in your child is flat feet. Your child might also complain of a bony bump on the side of their big toe, redness and swelling at the base of their big toe, ill-fitting shoes, or pain. While women can exacerbate a bunion by wearing pointy, high heels, this is obviously not the underlying cause of a bunion in your child! Children get bunions because of the kind of feet they inherited; flat feet, misaligned feet, loose ligaments, floppy joints, or excessive pronation. Rare causes of juvenile bunions include cerebral palsy, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and Downs Syndrome. 

When to See Your Podiatrist for Juvenile Bunions

As an adult, you might seek help from your podiatrist for a bunion that doesn't cause pain but looks ugly and keeps you from wearing certain shoes. However, bunions in children are more serious. If left untreated, juvenile bunions can cause increasing foot deformity because they interfere with how your child's foot grows. If your child is complaining of foot or toe pain, you should take her to your New Hampshire podiatrist as soon as possible. If you notice that your child is walking funny, has a bump on the side of her toe, the toe is red or swollen, or you're unable to find shoes that comfortably fit her, then yes -- it is time to take her to a podiatrist. 

Surgery for Bunions in Children

While bunion surgery can be performed safely in children it may not be the first option your podiatrist will consider. It is likely that your podiatrist will recommend trying conservative treatment methods before considering surgery for your child's bunion. Wearing pads or better-fitting shoes, performing strengthening exercises, and changing your child's activity may be enough to ease bunion pain in children. If there are structural deformities, your podiatrist may recommend toe splints, spacers, orthotics, or bunion surgery. 

The need for surgery will depend on a variety of factors including the underlying deformity in your child's foot and the severity of pain she is experiencing. Before recommending bunion surgery for your child, your podiatrist will take a medical history; conduct a physical examination with special attention paid to your child's walking pattern, foot posture and joint flexibility; and take an x-ray. Bunion surgery is relatively safe for children and while it is generally deemed best to wait until your child's foot bones have fully formed, earlier surgical intervention might be required if your child has a progressive deformity; in some cases, the longer you wait, the more difficult it is to correct a structural problem. 

Nagy Footcare Can Help

The experienced, caring doctors and staff at Nagy Footcare believe your child should not have to suffer from foot pain. If your child is complaining about his or her feet, or you notice that he is walking funny, we want to help. We believe your child deserves the proper diagnosis and best available treatment options whether she needs foot pads, strengthening exercises, pain medication, orthotics, or bunion surgery. Does your child have foot pain?  Contact Nagy Footcare today for a consultation. 

At Nagy Footcare, our best day is when you wake up with no foot pain!

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Topics: Bunions, Children

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